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Conflict resolution through storytelling

Third graders at Hyde Charter School explored a valuable story from Native American tradition.  As an introduction to the lesson, group members shook shaker-eggs to a constant beat while the music therapist introduced a lively melody with a Native American flute.  After the music, students shared their personal reactions.  They also discussed essential aspects of Native American life and culture.  The following Cherokee story was read out loud by the teacher and then discussed with the students:

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.

“One is Evil – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

“The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

After reading the story, the teacher reinforced the idea that philosophy is a way of thinking or a way of understanding events, and that this story was an example of Cherokee philosophy.

Through group discussion, students identified the meaning of the metaphors in the story and shared their personal thoughts on what it meant to “feed one of the wolves”.   The teacher reinforced the notion that the most valuable lesson to be drawn from the story is that according to the wise old Cherokee, we choose which “wolf we feed”, or in other words, what behaviors we engage in. Finally the teacher reminded the students about the importance of constructive choices when facing difficult situations and conflict.


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